One of the greatest experiences in travel is turning up to a new country with no plan whatsoever. No guidebook, no stacks of printed recommendations, no bookings. Just you, a grand idea of the adventures that lie ahead and the enthusiasm to go out and chat up locals to find out where they love to go and how they get around.
It allows a journey to develop organically from a seed of inspiration to discover the things you love, which may or may not be similar to what travelers before you loved. Not having an itinerary also means your plans will change often along the way, allowing you to forge a path that is uniquely tailored to your whims and desires.
By the time Ryan and I pull into Albany, Western Australia on our respective Clipper racing yachts, Ryan has spent three weeks at sea with a boat full of Aussies who have a lot of ideas about how we should go about traveling in Australia. “Sydney, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, do some diving, do some surfing, don’t go to Canberra – it’s shit.”
But Ryan’s idea is to buy or rent a camper van and drive across the Nullarbor, the expanse that lies between Perth and Adelaide, which every Aussie says is a terrible idea. They try to convince us to get a camper in Adelaide and drive east from there so we don’t die in the desert because we hit a kangaroo and didn’t have enough water to survive until the next car drove past…five days later.
Australia, it turns out, is the 52nd country I’ve visited, and never having been here before, I am positively giddy at the idea of seeing kangaroos, koalas and Crocodile Dundee. Because, really, that is all I know about Australia. So no matter how many times our Aussie friends tell us we’re going to hit a kangaroo and die, all I can think is, “Kangaroo! Where?!” And “Crocodile Dundee will save us!”
Thankfully, we are able to move our Aussie friends past the part in the conversation where they tell us we’re going to die and eventually they give up and tell us how they would go about driving across Australia, if they were crazy enough to think that was a good idea, which they want to make perfectly clear they do not.
And they tell us about car and camper relocations in Sydney, using campervan hire sites like www.campermanaustralia.com. Which turns out to be the single greatest Aussie travel tip EVER. Basically, whenever rental companies like Camperman Australia need to move a car, van or camper from one location to another, they advertise the dates and the type of car on their website and offer super low prices if you want to relocate a car for them during the time frame they need. Genius!
So, sure enough, after a little internet research, we find ourselves an Apollo 4-wheel-drive “Adventure Camper” at www.apollocamper.com/reloc.aspx, which needs to be picked up in Perth and relocated to Brisbane 12 days later, at the bargain price of $1 a day. Score!
So, as soon as our “Adventure Camper” is booked, the wheels start turning and we start dreaming of all the things we can do with our 12 days on the road. For instance, we can go find some kangaroos (we’ve not seen a single one), hang out in one-horse mining towns, chat to bogans (Aussie rednecks), see some beautiful beaches, visit friends in Melbourne and Brisbane, check out the waterfront bars in Sydney, camp out in national parks… and who knows what else we’ll discover along the way!
For now, we only have a few days left to see Albany and hang out with our Clipper crew mates before they sail off again on their next race to Sydney. But we’re not feeling so sad anymore to say good-bye to our boats.
Because a plan is in bloom and we have a four-wheel-drive adventure-on-wheels waiting for us in Perth. And I cannot wait to see where it takes us.
Tasha and Ryan both raced in Leg 1 of the Clipper Race from London to Rio de Janeiro and Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa to Albany, Australia. Tasha competed on Henri Lloyd and Ryan competed on PSP Logistics, and now they are traveling through Australia, Southeast Asia and the U.S., doing a full circumnavigation, before heading to the Dominican Republic to carry on sailing their own boat, Hideaway.